Black holes are some of the most amazing and mysterious structures in our universe. Formed from large collapsed stars, a black hole’s gravity is so strong that nothing can escape– not even light.
What would happen if a star ran into a black hole? Would it be a case of “unstoppable force vs. immovable object?” Not exactly. The process is called a “stellar tidal disruption” and it looks something like this:
Scientists from NASA actually spotted this exact phonemenon in real life. As the Daily Mail reported in 2012, NASA scientists recorded a black hole shredding a star at the center of a galaxy 2.7 billion light years away from Earth.
They discovered that some of the star’s material is sucked into the black hole, but the rest of it is ejected away from the hole at incredibly high speeds. Overall, the process expels a great deal of energy and radiation that can destroy other objects near the black hole.
The star isn’t disintegrated all at once, and the star’s gas spirals around the black hole for years as it’s slowly consumed by the black hole’s monsterous gravity. It’s a slower process than you think.
It’s a scary process, but don’t worry– the Earth isn’t in any danger. There aren’t any black holes close enough to us (we think).
Furthermore, the Sun isn’t large enough to turn into a black hole. Even if it did, we wouldn’t be sucked in because a sun-mass black hole would have the same gravitational pull of the Sun. No, we’re going to be alright until the sun becomes a red giant and expands in about 500 million years.
Image credit: NASA
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